It all becomes clear.
It was, Locke decided, the kiss that had undone him. He'd seen that, and he couldn't stay. Couldn't watch. Just couldn't.
They looked.... Fuck. I need to get another bottle....
He never could afterwards remember exactly where or how, but somehow he managed to make it up on the castle wall. He sat down on the parapet, legs dangling, and winced when he heard the crackle of paper in his pocket. He didn't even have to try hard to remember what the letter had said. It's not like it'd been long or anything.
I'm sorry. I can't. You deserve more than I can give you. I hope that some day you can forgive me.
Two handfuls of words to reduce him to ashes. Again.
The last swallow of wine slid easy as anything down his throat. He stared out at the moonlight on the sand, wishing that he didn't care. He closed his eyes, the bottle falling from his fingers as he wrapped his arms around himself, gravity taking it down to shatter on stone at the base of the wall. Good gods, I wish I didn't care, would sell my SOUL to not care, anything, everything.... He dug his hands into his hair, as if he could dig the memory of the note out of his brain. A small, tremulous voice in the back of his head whispered, I don't think I can do this again....
Locke jumped, twisting to face the voice, and nearly toppled right off the wall. "Gaaah!" He pinwheeled his arms, but his balance had gone to shit thanks to that bottle of wine, and his hands slid over the stone without finding purchase. In the end, he was only saved by a hard hand twisting in the back of his shirt, pulling him back from the edge. Locke made a point of pulling his feet up, scrambling off the wall completely and thumping down onto the stone with a bruising jar to his tailbone. He looked up at his savior. "Nine hells, Shadow, y'scared the shit out of me."
"Obviously." Shadow, apparently satisfied that there was no way that Locke could fall off the castle from where he was, loosed his hand from Locke's shirt. He turned, leaning back against the parapet. He was dressed as he had been in the ballroom, his jacket undone but his hair still held back at the nape of his neck. "You're too drunk to be sitting on walls."
"Not drunk 'nough," Locke muttered to his knees. Behind his eyelids, the world was starting to waltz itself a bit, but not enough. He could still remember every word of Celes' letter.
"Kindly refrain from killing yourself while you're here." It wasn't phrased as a request.
"M'not gonna kill myself and what business'd it be o'yours if I did?" Locke aimed for sounding belligerent and had a suspicion that he sounded more whiny than anything.
"Sabin is worried about you."
"Ah, I see. I knew 't had t'be somethin' like that to make you act'lly act concerned...." Locke struggled to stand up and only managed to get to his knees, his arms resting on the parapet. He sighed, setting his chin on his arms, looking out at the sand dunes. "I wish I was more like you. Not caring...."
Shadow actually sighed. "If you think that, you really HAVEN'T been paying attention, Locke. Now, do you want to talk, or just sit up here in the cold and sulk?"
Locke looked at him incredulously: the world's deadliest assassin, standing there in beige velvet offering to talk. It boggled the mind. "Talkin's never been your thing."
"No, so consider yourself honored that I even offer."
Locke couldn't help but snort a laugh. A small one, but a laugh nonetheless. He knelt there for a good while, though, not sure that he wanted to talk about it. He was beginning to see the appeal of the desert, though, he decided. It looked damn beautiful in the moonlight. "She gave it back," he murmured.
"Gave what back?"
"The...my...." He found he couldn't say it. It made it too real. Hit too close to home. Hurt too much. Locke just dragged the envelope out of his pocket and thrust it at Shadow without looking, his hand falling like lead back to his side when he felt the envelope lifted from his fingers. There was the soft rustle of paper as Shadow opened it, maybe unfolded the letter. The slight chink as the ring and its chain fell out into his palm.
Locke squeezed his eyes shut, pressing them to the back of his hands. "She gave it back."
Shadow was perfectly silent for a long moment, long enough to make Locke tilt his head to look over at him. Slowly, Shadow replaced the letter and the chain and ring, laying the envelope on the wall between them. "I'm sorry," he said softly.
"Yeah." Locke closed his eyes, wishing again for some more wine. "Me too." Something hot and hard and painful in his chest was growing, like the bloom of an Ultima spell. The stone under his knees was suddenly unbearable, and he stood, wobbling but leaning on the wall for balance. "I just...." His breath caught, and he hitched another one in, staring down at his hands on the top of the wall and blinked at the tears that fell on them. "I can't...."
Hands came down on his shoulders, not doing anything, just...there, and Locke couldn't even muster the energy to be surprised. "This HURTS...," Locke whispered.
"I know." Shadow's hands squeezed his shoulders once before pulling back on him slightly. "Come on."
"I'm putting you to bed."
Locke let himself be pushed, too drained to resist, but not too drained to grumble, "Won't Sabin be jealous?"
"He'll be there, too. Between the two of us, we'll be able to keep you from doing anything stupid until you sober up."
There was a joke in there somewhere, but...Locke just didn't feel like making it. He allowed Shadow to lead him back into the castle.